Delivery models: Consistency and integration across vendors

By: Pedro Soares

To succeed in today’s business markets, companies require all different kinds of tools and services. It can be difficult to find one vendor that can provide everything, so multi-sourcing has become a common scenario, especially for information technology (IT) services. But how do companies deal with different sources of delivery?

To tackle issues related to multi-sourcing, a concept typically referred to as service integration and management (SIAM) has been gaining visibility. It aims to seamlessly integrate interdependent services from various internal and external service providers to meet business requirements. However, if you assume that a high percentage of IT services will soon be provided in a standardized way and that the number of service providers will increase to meet business demand, cloud brokerage might be a better approach.

Cloud brokerage is often described as SIAM updated for the cloud. A cloud broker sits between the service providers and the business, procuring services and delivering them as well as governing their approvals and compliance. To get a better understanding of how this can help provide consistency and integration across vendors, let’s take a closer look at the multi-sourcing environment.

Budgeting for many vendors

One of the biggest issues companies face when managing multiple vendors is controlling their budgets. Total cost of consumption (TCC) is now an extremely important factor in budget control for many companies. It measures the cost per unit of consumption of IT services. Without establishing the TCC, there’s no real way for a company to understand its spending, establish targets or plan for additional efficiencies through vendor benchmarking or targeted skills selection (some vendors will be better positioned to provide specific services). Cloud brokerage can help your business gain additional insight in this area by combining service discovery, model comparisons and the estimated bill of materials.

Characteristics of multi-sourcing

The issues around dealing with multiple IT providers and their respective delivery models can be described in three main categories:

  • People.Where are your employees? There are multiple combinations possible, including off-shore, near-shore or local in-country resources. There’s no standard choice, and even models that are different in other aspects can have teams of people in the same location. The complexity here mostly comes from regulatory and legal requirements on country, company or even departmental levels. So even if this isn’t a critical decision factor, not all scenarios may be available due to specific restrictions.
  • Processes. This is potentially the most important theme, as there is a natural tendency to try and fit every service definition to the most common one or to the first one that was adopted. Most providers will have their own processes, so customization at this level usually isn’t possible or it’s much more expensive (and probably more difficult to manage in the long run) than the standard service option.
  • Tools. Technology shouldn’t matter in an “as a service” world, but guess what … it does! This does not necessarily mean the tools each provider will use for its own operations and control. Instead, the tools that are exposed as consumer interfaces and some APIs should not be neglected. Some form of integration between all these interfaces must be established, and “swivel chair” models just do not cut it.

The cloud brokerage solution

No solution is 100 percent guaranteed to be effective (and much relies on the ability to keep consistent service level agreements across contracts and providers), but using cloud brokerage services can help your company keep all items controlled under the same structure. With everything in the same place, it is much easier to manage the complexity of a multi-sourcing environment and obtain your company’s TCC — along with all the planning and cost mitigation benefits that can come from knowing it.

From a more operational perspective, and especially for systems that control ticketing, changes and more, some additional level of forwarding and integration may be necessary. However, cloud brokerage can even provide these with more consistent visibility.

If your company is struggling to achieve standardization, consistency and integration across multiple vendors, cloud brokerage services might be the solution it’s been looking for. For more on this topic, follow me on Twitter @pgspsoares or schedule a consutation.

About The Author

Pedro Soares

Executive Architect, IBM

Pedro Soares is an Executive Architect working for IBM Global Technology Services. He's been creating IT solutions for more than 20 years, and mostly for IBM. Started as a Systems Engineer on Operating Systems and then moved to a more Network oriented perspective, then IT Systems Management, a bit of Security, and for the last... Read more